Students from eight Norman elementary schools came to the University of Oklahoma to do one thing Tuesday: design the best parade float.
That was the challenge handed down by Devon Energy for its second annual Design + Do Competition at the OU Tom Love Innovation Hub. Starting at 9 a.m., groups of fifth-grade students went from brainstorm to prototype and presentation using the various tools and resources the Innovation Hub has to offer.
"This is the second year for me to do this, and you guys have taken this to another level," said Dr. Nick Migliorino, Norman Public Schools superintendent and Design + Do judge. "I'm so very proud of you, the students, the teachers and the design team volunteers. You all did an incredible job. You represented Norman well."
NPS was part of the Design + Do pilot program last year, when students designed playground equipment. In the year since, Supervisor of Community Affairs Christina Rehkop said the program has expanded to Oklahoma City Public Schools and about a half-dozen schools in western Oklahoma.
"It's high energy. The kids are excited," Rehkop said. "They're learning so much, and they have no idea, because they're in it to win it. No idea is a bad idea. They do it all together, and it's so fun to watch."
Each team had to design a parade float within the provided parameters.
The design had to be something that could be replicated in real life, and it had to follow a theme. Some teams chose Christmas, others chose Halloween and Dia de los Muertos, and still others chose homecoming and OU football.
The teams had to come up with a theme song, and each float had to come with a "twist," something unique that would add to the overall parade experience. Each had to present their float to the crowded room, including the judges.
"This puts together a lot of real-world situations that Devon employees are faced with," Rehkop said. "So you get a challenge, and in this case, they're designing a parade float. They have to work together as a team to be creative, innovative, problem solve and create the best design."
Truman Elementary won first prize for its OU football-inspired homecoming float. It included a "dunk tank" style feature in which parade-goers could throw commemorative balls at a target to send someone representing the opposing team down a slide, a way to get the crowd involved.
"It was the teamwork, the creativity and seeing everyone involved," said Mike Dionisio, vice president of supply chain and marketing for Devon, who was also a judge. "They had a very elegant and simple solution to what can be a complex problem. That's part of what also sold us on that."
Adams Elementary's hot cocoa and marshmallow float won the most collaborative award. Lakeview's "Biker Santa" float won for best twist, and Kennedy Elementary's Halloween float won most creative.
Chris Hammons, captain of the 2000 OU National Championship team and a finalist for season 33 of "Survivor," served as guest judge this year. Hammons told students he was impressed by their presentations.
"When I was your age, there's no way I'd have the courage to get up in front of all these people and do a presentation like that," Hammons said. "I encourage all of you to continue to get up in front of people, because that's something that will lead to you becoming very successful."